Coalition Seeks Safe and Compassionate Alternative to Utah’s Medical Marijuana Initiative

News Release

A coalition made up of medical experts, clergy, law enforcement, educators and business leaders gathered on Utah’s Capitol Hill Thursday to speak in opposition to the state’s medical marijuana initiative that will appear on the ballot this fall.

Coalition members say initiatives to legalize marijuana in other states have led to increased drug use among youth, higher risk of impaired driving and an increase in hospital emergency department visits, among other significant public health and safety concerns.

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“The marijuana initiative appearing as Proposition 2 on the ballot this November does not strike the appropriate balance in ensuring safe and reasonable access for patients while also protecting youth and preventing other societal harms,” said Michelle McOmber of Drug Safe Utah and CEO of the Utah Medical Association.

Read the full coalition statement

“We do not object to marijuana derivatives being used in medicinal form — so long as appropriate controls and safeguards are in place to ensure vulnerable populations are protected and access is limited to truly medicinal purposes,” said McOmber on behalf of the coalition.

“The Church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy,” said Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a member of the coalition. “We are deeply concerned by the history of other states that have allowed for medical or recreational use of this drug without the proper controls and have experienced serious consequences to the health and safety of their citizens.”

“Our hope and expectation is to bring the broader community together, including all those who have a lot of experience and understanding in what we can do as followers of Jesus Christ to relieve human pain and suffering and to help those afflicted,” said Elder Gerard.

Bishop Scott Hayashi of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah said, “There are significant enough concerns for me to oppose Proposition 2 as it stands, but I will pledge that in going forward I will work for the passage of something that will allow for medical cannabis to be available for those who will benefit from it.”

“Proposition 2 is not about medicine,” said Dr. Adam Taintor of the Utah Medical Association. “It is a poorly disguised initiative to allow recreational use into the state. … Qualifying illnesses under Proposition 2 for the marijuana card opens the doors for almost anyone to easily qualify for the card.”

“My biggest qualm with Proposition 2 is that I feel that the patient’s interest is not at the heart of the matter,” said Enedina Stanger, who spoke at the media event. Stanger moved to Colorado from Utah to have access to medical cannabis to treat her symptoms associated with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic disease that affects the connective tissues in her body. “We are excited for the possibilities,” she added. “Let's just do it the right way.”

“[The proposition] does not provide the protections for children and youth and families,” said Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency of the Church. “We’re very concerned and very empathetic actually to parents who actually are suffering right along with their children, who worry day and night and hour by hour and are looking for a hopeful solution.”

“We also urge lawmakers, patients and community stakeholders to work together to find a solution that works for all Utahns,” said McOmber. “The hallmarks of Utah’s unique policy accomplishments in the past have been civility, compassion and a spirit of compromise, and we are confident an approach guided by these principles will yield similarly effective policies.”

Members of the coalition who spoke at the media event include Dr. Adam Taintor, Utah Medical Association; Enedina Stanger, patient representative; Aaron Kennard, Utah Sheriffs Association; DeAnn Kettenring, Utah PTA ; Bishop Scott Hayashi, Episcopal Diocese of Utah; Elder Jack Gerard, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Nathan Frodsham, patient representative; Todd Moon, patient representative; and Steve Starks, Salt Lake Chamber president-elect.

Elder Craig C. Christensen, president of the Utah Area of the Church, is sending an email to members in Utah, urging them to vote against the proposition.

“The Church joins a coalition of medical experts, public officials, and community stakeholders in calling for a safe and compassionate approach to providing medical marijuana to those in need,” said Elder Christensen. “Join us in a call to state elected officials to promptly work with medical experts, patients, and community leaders to find a solution that will work for all Utahns, without the harmful effects that will come to pass if Proposition 2 becomes law.”

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Coalition Statement

This statement was delivered Thursday, August 23, 2018, by Michelle McOmber of the Utah Medical Association during a press event at the Utah State Capitol.

Medical marijuana is an issue that has generated strong emotions and opinions among proponents and opponents alike. On one hand, initiatives to legalize marijuana in other states have led to increased drug use among youth, higher risk of impaired driving, and an increase in hospital emergency department visits, among other significant public health and safety concerns. On the other hand, patients suffering from debilitating pain and other medical conditions have struggled as traditional treatment strategies have failed to provide relief. The marijuana initiative appearing as Proposition 2 on the ballot this November does not strike the appropriate balance in ensuring safe and reasonable access for patients while also protecting youth and preventing other societal harms.

We are firmly opposed to Proposition 2. However, we do not object to marijuana derivatives being used in medicinal form—so long as appropriate controls and safeguards are in place to ensure vulnerable populations are protected and access is limited to truly medicinal purposes. Moreover, though continued research into the risks and benefits of medical marijuana use remains paramount, current scientific evidence suggests marijuana contains components that may be of benefit to some patients.

We urge the voters of Utah to vote no on Proposition 2. We also urge lawmakers, patients, and community stakeholders to work together to find a solution that works for all Utahns. The hallmarks of Utah’s unique policy accomplishments in the past have been civility, compassion, and a spirit of compromise, and we are confident an approach guided by these principles will yield similarly effective policies.

Sincerely,

Coalition Statement Supporters at the time of the media event. Drug Safe Utah is expecting more to join the list. 

Dr. Adam Taintor, Utah Medical Association

Enedina Stanger, Patient Representative

Aaron Kennard, Utah Sheriffs' Association

DeAnn Kettenring, Utah PTA

Bishop Scott Hayashi, Episcopal Diocese of Utah

Elder Jack N. Gerard, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Nathan Frodsham, Patient Representative

Todd Moon, Patient Representative

Steve Starks, President-Elect, Salt Lake Chamber

Rob Bishop, United States Congressman

Chris Stewart, United States Congressman

Scott Anderson, President and CEO, Zions Bank

Gail Miller, Owner & Chair of the LHM Group of Companies

Karen Huntsman

Mike Leavitt, Former Governor, Secretary of HHS

David Huntsman, President, Huntsman Foundation

Mitt Romney, Former U.S. Presidential Candidate

Jim Jardine, Lawyer, Education Leader

Kem Gardner, Chairman, Gardner Company

Rosie Rivera, Salt Lake County Sheriff, Previous Supporter

Spencer P. Eccles, Former Exec. Dir. Governor’s Office of Economic Development

Carlton Christensen, Former Salt Lake City Council Member

Aimee Winder Newton, Chair Salt Lake County Council

Derek Miller, President and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce

Dave Mallinak, Pastor, Berean Baptism Church, Ogden

Rev. Gregory Johnson, President, Standing Together

Wayne Niederhauser, President, Utah Senate

Greg Hughes, Speaker of the Utah House

Stuart Adams, Majority Whip, Utah Senate

Brad Wilson, Majority Leader Utah State House

Karen Hale, Former Utah State Senator

Jake Anderegg, Utah State Senator

Curt Bramble, Utah State Senator

Susan Bramble, Utah State Senator

Allen Christensen, Utah State Senator

Wayne Harper, Utah State Senator

Lyle Hillyard, Utah State Senator

Don Ipson, Utah State Senator

Peter Knudsen, Utah State Senator

Ann Milner, Utah State Senator

Ralph Okerlund, Utah State Senator

Jerry Stevenson, Utah State Senator

Evan Vickers, Utah State Senator

Cheryl Atkins, Utah State Representative

Stuart Barlow, MD, Utah State Representative

Walt Brooks, Utah State Representative

LaVar Christensen, Utah State Representative

Tim Hawkes, Utah State Representative

Ken Ivory, Utah State Representative

Karianne Lisonbee, Utah State Representative

Cory Maloy, Utah State Representative

Mike McKell, Utah State Representative

Kelly Miles, Utah State Representative

Merrill Nelson, Utah State Representative

Mike Noel, Utah State Representative

Darrin Owens, Utah State Representative

Lee Perry, Utah State Representative

Jeremy Peterson, Utah State Representative

Val Potter, Utah State Representative

Tim Quinn, Utah State Representative

Adam Robertson, Utah State Representative

Lowry Snow, Utah State Representative

Kevin Stratton, Utah State Representative

Norm Thurston, Utah State Representative

Logan Wilde, Utah State Representative

Kim R. Wilson, Attorney

Walt Plumb, Developer, Philanthropist

Mike Kennedy, MD

Jennifer Brown, DDS, Dentist

Ed Kennedy, President, Truth about Prop. 2

Nathan Evershed, Candidate, County Attorney

Supporting Organizations

American College of Emergency Physicians, Utah Chapter

Citizens for Strong Families

Family First Foundation

Family Policy Resource

Fraternal Order of Police

Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake

Latinos in Action

Meridian Magazine

Newquist Group

Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce

Salt Lake City Police Association

Sutherland Institute

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Eagle Forum

Utah Episcopal Diocese

Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Utah Hospital Association

Utah Medical Association

Utah Narcotics Officers Association

Utah PTA

Utah Sheriffs' Association

Utah Society of Anesthesiologists, Utah Chapter

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